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Memed, My Hawk [Paperback]

By Yashar Kemal, Yashar Kemal (Introduction by) & Edouard Roditi (Translator)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   371
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2005
Publisher   NYRB Classics
ISBN  159017139X  
EAN  9781590171394  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
A tale of high adventure and lyrical celebration, tenderness and violence, generosity and ruthlessness, "Memed, My Hawk" is the defining achievement of one of the greatest and most beloved of living writers, Yashar Kemal. It is reissued here with a new introduction by the author on the fiftieth anniversary of its first publication.
Memed, a high-spirited, kindhearted boy, grows up in a desperately poor mountain village whose inhabitants are kept in virtual slavery by the local landlord. Determined to escape from the life of toil and humiliation to which he has been born, he flees but is caught, tortured, and nearly killed. When at last he does get away, it is to set up as a roving brigand, celebrated in song, who could be a liberator to his people--unless, like the thistles that cover the mountain slopes of his native region, his character has taken an irremediably harsh and unforgiving form.

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More About Yashar Kemal, Yashar Kemal & Edouard Roditi

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Yashar Kemal (1922-2015) was born into a Kurdish family in a village in southern Anatolia and saw his father brutally murdered at the age of five, which left him with a severe stutter for years to come. He received his basic education in village schools before working as a farmer, factory worker, public letter-writer, and journalist. Memed, My Hawk, his first novel, was published in 1955 and won the Varlik Prize for best novel of the year. Kemal's numerous other books include The Wind from the Plain trilogy, Salman the Solitary, Seagull, and four books recounting the exploits of Memed, including, Memed, My Hawk and They Burn the Thistles.
Edouard Roditi (1910-1992) was born in France. He was an author of poetry and stories, as well as a translator of writings originating in French, German, Spanish, and Turkish.

Yashar Kemal was born in 1923.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Contemporary   [78538  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Literary   [246863  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > Middle Eastern > Turkey   [7  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
"There are no fields, no vineyards, no gardens. Only thistles."  Apr 23, 2008
It does not surprise me that this book, written in 1953 and translated into English in 1961, was made into a movie in 1984, starring Peter Ustinov, who also directed it. Its author, Yashar Kemal, was born in southern Anatolia and at the age of 5, witnessed the brutal murder of his father. His family lived in the shadow of the great and beautiful Taurus Mountains, which is the setting of this tale. It's clear the author knows his landscape well, and the characters that appear in this work were inspired by real bandits who inhabited those mountains and whom he knew as a child and young man.

"Memed, My Hawk" is cinematic and filled with extremes of emotion, a true action-packed adventure story that sometimes resembles a wild Western and at other times seems biblical in its descriptive power. True oppressors of the people, the landlords or "aghas," take on the profile of evil dictators as they steal the people's crops and land and relentlessly brutalize helpless villagers. The land is the most treasured object there is. In this oppressive atmosphere, there is one who will not allow himself to be oppressed. And although he takes on heroic proportions in his grim struggle for justice, Memed is also compassionate and human. The author takes great pains to ensure that Memed is a real human being and not just a stock character, and he succeeds brilliantly.

Violent vengeful emotions and tribalism play big roles in this book. Villagers silently express themselves and support their heroes by banding tightly together and cursing their enemies. Evil acts are never forgotten. And vindication is what drives these characters forward every day. This book is a classic, a heavy dose of Turkish adventure, beauty, and cruelty. Although I was sometimes jarred by what must have been a rushed translation, I found myself thoroughly engrossed in this work. I recommend it as a quick read and as a way to achieving insight into oppressed peoples and their longing for liberation.
An Eastern Western  Oct 17, 2007
This is a shoot-up in the old Zane Grey style......lots of swash and buckle. The setting may be the rugged outback of Anatolia in the 1920's but the plot is pure horse-opera. Scarcely worth the time of day for a grownup, alas.

John Truman NYC
The voice of south Anatolian village story teller  Jan 20, 2007
This is Yashar Kemal's (1922-present) first novel, originally published in 1955. He is one of the best read Turkish writers. The lucid translation into English is by Edouard Roditi, the author of The Delights of Turkey: Twenty Tales. Kemal's story draws on his childhood as a Kurd in a poor southern Anatolian village of hard-laboring share-croppers.

The twin strengths of the story are its sense of place and of identification with Memed, its bandit hero. Abdi Agha, the village landlord, collects two-thirds of farmers' hard won harvest and otherwise rules as a local despot. Abdi Agha singles out Memed and his widowed mother for abuse. Memed rebels and flees to the nearby Taurus Mountains, where he becomes a bandit. His struggle is for dignity but also for violent revenge. Despite this violent urge, Memed mostly avoids violence, and seeks to treat most enemies as well as friends with compassion.

In the end, the story of Memed, son of Ibrahim the Miserable, is about triumph of the oppressed against the arbitrary. It's not realistic, it's a fantasy. Yet the story serves a purpose: in his introduction, Kemal affirms that:

"By creating myths, by conjuring up worlds of dreams, one can withstand the great suffering of the world..."

Kemal writes with clear avuncular voice of a village story teller, speaking to children of his native village, in the dry heat of a clear Mediterranean evening. The tale is full of light, illuminating his landscape of home. This is a landscape of hard earth, of fields of thistle, below the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, some miles inland from the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. In nearly every passage, the reader feels this sense of belonging, the sense of familiar soil, something that it's hard for me to find within, except sometimes when I remember the smell and color of leaves, scattered in my path to elementary school, on a brisk October day in Philadelphia. This is how Kemal describes his home:

"Only beyond the low hilltops crowned with heavy-scented myrtle do the rocks suddenly appear, and with them the pine trees. The crystal-bright drops of resin ooze from the trunks and trickle down to the ground. Beyond the pines are plateaus where the soil is gray and arid. From here it looks as if the snow-capped peaks of the Taurus are very close, almost within arms reach.

Dikenli, the Plateau of Thistles, is one of these highland plains, with five small villages clustered on it. The inhabitants of all five are tenant farmers, on Abdi Agha's Land. Dikenli is a world by itself, with its own laws and customs.."

Read on.
Breathtaking  Sep 17, 2006
This book is certainly an exhilarating page-turner! But not merely this: Lush descriptions of the Turkish countryside as it existed at the time, a cast of characters Tolstoyan in their sweep, and, above all, an epic story of a downtrodden hero---In short, the book is a Romance. It is not, though, the simple-minded, pat story that one sometimes associates with this term. It is a Romance in the sense that War and Peace and Don Quixote are Romances. The author goes to some pains in the introduction to explain why he has written this sort of book, instead of something dry and dispiriting as many of the works of, say, V. S .Naipaul are. If I could sum up these arguments, it would be that such a work as Memed, My Hawk touches on what is written in every human heart. And it does. It is ribald, comic, sad, distressing, heartbreaking---all the emotions, which, blended together, make up a human life. It is also, of course, more specifically, about a particular human named Memed, who embodies these traits in an heroic fashion. - I don't think that it belittles this book a jot to compare it to the movie Braveheart. I found myself reminded of this cinematic work more than anything else throughout the book---There are so many thematic and plot similarities. Let's put it this way, if you love Braveheart, you will love this book. But also, if you love War and Peace or Don Quixote, you will love this book. And I say, good and well, let's have the old pathos and lyricism back that made literature what it is. Let's not leave it to the dry hacks who warn us, like so many bloodless Jeremiahs, of the perils of following our hearts. Let's let literature be literature! ---But never mind me. Let's let Kemal have the last word:

"No matter how limited a man's field of vision, his imagination knows no bounds. A man who has never been outside his village of Deyirmenoluk can still create a whole imaginary world that can reach as far as the stars. Without travelling, a man can penetrate to the other end of the world. Even without much imagination the place where he dwells can become different in his dreams, a true paradise." P.77

So, go. Read and Dream!
Best epic written in history of mankind  Jul 4, 2006
Memed, my hawk is nothing short of a revelation. It is the first instalment of four books and the final instalment was written more than twenty after the first one. I, being from
Turkey, had not read this book until i was 24 years old, certainly much later than I had read the works of Tolstoy, Soholov, Chaucer, Steinbeck etc. But this book was completely
in a league of its own. The first one was spectacular, but the second, third and fourth simply unbeatable. For all the comparisons made with Robin Hood ,Don Kichote and other great
literary achievements (all appreciated), nevertheless this is
- believe me - the finest any writer has ever produced. The great author Yasar Kemal has produced many fine works since 1953, when the book was first published; but all of them will be eclipsed by this book, which reads so fresh more than 50 years after it is written. Memed, My Hawk is to literature what 24 is to TV or what Les Miserables is to theatre.
A life changing book if ever there was one. READ!!!!

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